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Tue 30 Apr 2013 11:31 AM

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We did not approach Qatar for HQ move – ICAO

Revealed: Details of lucrative offer made to UN aviation body by Gulf state

We did not approach Qatar for HQ move – ICAO

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has revealed details of the lucrative financial package Qatar has offered in a bid to persuade the UN body to move its 534 staff and headquarters from Montreal to Doha, but has denied it approached the Gulf state to submit its offer.

The headquarters of the ICAO has been resident in the Canadian city of Montreal since 1946, but last week it was confirmed Qatar had offered to build the organisation a new headquarters in Doha when its 20 year lease comes up for renewal in 2016.

An ICAO spokesperson told Arabian Business the organisation had not approached regarding a rival offer to that being negotiated with Canadian authorities and the Qatari offer was only being considered at this stage.

“Qatar was not invited to submit its offer. This was purely a Qatari initiative. ICAO has not entered into discussion with any states on the topic of its permanent seat, not even Qatar. For now we have simply received an offer and, for this offer to formally proceed, Qatar must prepare a working paper for the next assembly so that all relevant details may be duly considered by our member states,” the spokesperson said.

As part of the deal, Arabian Business has learned Qatar has offered a lucrative proposal in order to entice the ICAO to move from Montreal to Doha.

As part of the offer, Qatar said it would cover the construction of a new, state-of-the-art premises for ICAO and all expenses relating to its equipage and facilities, maintenance, utilities, insurance and security.

Doha has also offered to cover all expenses related to moving the current HQ and relevant staff to the new Qatar location, all expenses regarding contract or staff terminations and severance packages required as a result of the HQ move, as well as maximum health coverage and reduced educational fees for ICAO staff residing in Qatar.

The move would be a diplomatic embarrassment for the Ottawa government and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has personally intervened to prevent the loss of the high profile UN organisation.

“Minister Baird has spoken to the Prime Minister of Qatar twice this week about the issue. Our government is working to keep ICAO in Montreal,” Joseph Lavoie, a spokesman for Baird told Arabian Business.

“Minister Baird is personally ready, willing and keen to work with the Government of Quebec and the City of Montreal to keep ICAO in such a world-class city,” he added.

According to a report by the French-language La Presse newspaper, Qatar claimed Montreal was too far from Europe and Asia and suffered cold winters. The report also said Qatar claimed Canada made it hard for delegates to get visas and Canadian taxes were too high. In a bid to seal the deal, Qatar is also said to have offered build new brand new headquarter for the ICAO and cover all the organisation's running costs.

Montreal was originally selected as ICAO’s permanent seat in 1946 in light of its significant aerospace sector and geographic proximity to the UN General Assembly in New York, amongst other factors concerning its local infrastructure and general cultural qualities, the ICAO said.

Montreal today remains the world’s third most significant aerospace city, after Toulouse, France and Seattle in the USA, with several of the world’s major air transport organisations headquartered here (IATA, ACI, IFALPA, to name a few) and over 80 aerospace companies located either on the island of Montreal or within its immediate surrounding regions, it added.

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Ronald 7 years ago

Qatar's lack of comfort with its new and entirely resource-earned money is fully on show here. They have convinced themselves they can buy acceptance and class, but little do they know the ways of the UN bureaucracy. Maybe if Qatar had worked for its money, not bowed down to the US and stuck with a programme to empower its citizens, the ICAO might even read down to paragraph three of the application.

Qatari 7 years ago

How dare you talk to your bosses in that manner, Qatar owns half of the UK.

Ken Spitz 7 years ago

UN bodies and other neutral organisations should not get carried away with the commercial benefits of such a move. The invasion of Kuwait is still fresh in our memories. Hence other factors like political stability, the judicial system and freedom of the press and movement of people are major factor for consideration. Qatar has a very small local population, few who are looking for employment outside their own Government positions. Almost all the work force are immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, and the less wealthy Arab countries who are allowed to live there only because of their employment status.

While Qatar's claim that Montreal is far from Asia and Europe is true, we should not forget that the earth is round, and not flat, as it was believed before Galileo's time! Just like the Canadian winters are cold, the summer in Doha, is equally harsh for any outdoor activity.

Ken Spitz 7 years ago

The British deserve credit for making the average Qatari believe that the few assets they own is about half of UK :)! My guess, is that Qataris are still made to pay the high fees that UK charges for an entry visa. Also, if Qatar owns half of UK, how come they have not invited Qataris with a seat in the house of parliament?

John 7 years ago

Hang on... Qatar has had enough of troublesome expats, yet they look to attract more by enticing the ICAO to Doha. Mixed signals here...

Qataris need to have a re-think about that they want!

Ronald 7 years ago

Yes, Qatari, dream on. Qatar owns a whole lot of enormously high profile projects which nobody else would finance because they are lumbering white elephants. They sign cheques with their egos without doing due diligence. Even Prince Charles put a stop to that egregious bling in Chelsea. The Shard, interesting as it is, will never actually pay for itself.